Moscow— In a simple meeting room at the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry building, Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova gave me a generous hour of her time in a conversation peppered with bemused laughter at Western allegations about Russia and clear frustration at the West’s incessant vilification of all things Russia.
I traveled to Moscow in August, where to my delight I had the opportunity to interview Zakharova. Given that Russia is the focus of obsessive and largely negative Western media reporting, and also the country’s role in eliminating the proliferation of terrorist groups that once controlled large swaths of Syria, I wanted to ask Zakharova for her take on a variety of topics related to both Russia and Syria.
In our wide-ranging discussion, Zakharova spoke of the U.S. sanctions regime against Russia and of the Western interference in Russian domestic issues — such as the protests seen in Moscow in July and August.
On Syria, she addressed the issue of exploitation of children in propaganda against Syria and Russia — notably Omran Daqneesh, a child whose image was splashed across newspapers and screens worldwide in 2016, incriminating Russia and Syria in an airstrike that was later proven to have never happened. An official apology from one of the most adamant perpetrators of that narrative, CNN’sChristian Amanpour, also never
One cannot discuss the war in Syria and related propaganda without addressing the massively-funded White Helmets. In discussing the group, Zakharova gave examples of its role in fomenting support for Western military intervention, including in pushing responsibility on the Syrian government for the alleged but unproven and, by most honest accounts, stagedchemical attack in Douma, eastern Ghouta, in 2018. Footage of the attack included video starring the White Helmets and another exploited Syrian boy, Hassan Diab, whose testimony of the events ran in stark contrast to the allegations against the Syrian government that were being circulated in the Western media.
Zakharova also addressed the inconsistencies around the Skripal case, the historic importance of Crimea’s referendum, and the U.K. “media freedom” conference of July 2019, where cases of imprisoned journalists like Julian Assange and Kirill Vyshinsky were notably not part of the conference program.
In an unexpected development since my discussion with Zakharova, Ukrainian-Russian journalist and editor Vyshinsky was released from his over 15 months of imprisonment without trial by Ukraine. Referring to his imprisonment, Zakharova described him as a hostage.
More from my January 2019 re-visit to Aleppo, Syria.
Again in the old city of Aleppo, and around the Citadel, I speak with civilians about life, take footage from a city ravaged by terrorism but rebuilding, and add a bit of footage from November 2016 where the person I was with told me terrorists burned the old souq before leaving.
“This is not my work. My work, I have a factory for bottling olive oil, in Idlib.” [When was the last time you saw it?] “Before 8 years.”
“The difference between war in the name of religion and war for money or oil is that with war for oil, when you put your hand on oil wells, the war ends. When you control politics, the war is over. But when it comes to religion, here is the problem: the fight will go on for hundreds of years.” — Syrian Grand Mufti Hassoun
On October 2, 2018, I met with the Grand Mufti of Syria, Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, a scholar and the highest official of Islamic law in Syria, who assumed the position of grand mufti in 2005.
Dr. Hassoun’s (archived) website notes that in addition to his title of grand mufti, his other positions include, “Chairman of the Media Committee of the Higher Consultative Council for the Rapprochement between the Islamic Schools of Thought, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.” Essentially meaning that the mufti focuses on interfaith, and inter-sect, dialogue.
His speeches routinely focus on the theme of rapprochement or, more generally, coexistence and love. He takes a firmly anti-sectarian stance, and supports the removal of barriers between sects, in order to achieve national unity. CONTINUE READING
Samuel Hassoun is an American of Syrian descent. His grandfather was Syrian, and in 1995 he first visited Syria, visiting numerous times afterwards, eventually meeting what would become his wife. He and his Syrian wife moved to Syria in March 2011. We discuss the realities he was seeing and hearing in Syria versus the lies reported on corporate and Gulf media on Syria, as well as many other aspects of life in Syria and the long-manufactured war on Syria. POST CONTINUES
Nikki Haley, the hypocritical US Ambassador to the UN, mistakenly thinks she can dictate – from New York City, far from the terrorists which her country supports – that the Syrian army cannot fight and eradicate al-Qaeda in Idlib.
Her, and other American figures’ words, come with faked concern over the lives of Syrian civilians.
This is particularly ironic given that the US-led coalition, illegally in Syria, destroyed the Syrian city of Raqqa and killed untold numbers of civilians along the way, in their fake fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) – a pretext which has only time and again strengthened IS in Syria. Raqqa remains uninhabitable, and even today corpses are still being unearthed.
Haley and the Western corporate media have been bleating in chorus about Idlib and the civilians there, deliberately ignoring the presence of Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists occupying the governorate and surrounding areas in Aleppo and Hama governorates.
They ignore, too, the reality of life in areas which were once occupied by these terrorists: the torture, imprisonment, maiming, assassination, and starvation endured by the civilian population at the hands of these extremists and paid mercenaries. CONTINUE READING
In 2016, I visited the centre depicted in the linked RT news report on the effect of western sanctions on children with cancer. At the time, the director told me they were trying to help 240 children, were underfunded and in debt, the people working there were volunteers, and (at that time) were facing constant power outages, as was the norm in Aleppo due to terrorists outside of Aleppo controlling the power plant.